See below for video and a transcript of Sen. Mark Warner’s comments last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, regarding Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian interference in U.S. elections. Important stuff, and Sen. Warner explains it every clearly.
MSNBC’s the Rachel Maddow Show
RACHEL MADDOW: Joining us now is the senior Senator from Virginia, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the committee that is responsible for this mammoth and landmark report today, Senator Mark Warner. Senator Warner it’s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight, thank you for taking the time.
SEN. MARK WARNER: Rachel, thank you for having me, it’s been a long three and a half years, and for your viewers, this is volume five of the report, and all of them have been uniformly formally bipartisan. We’ve had 14 out of 15 votes on every one of these reports and I think it’s important that the American public read it, draw their own conclusions and make sure it never happens again.
MADDOW: Did you guys put out a thousand day report on the second day of the DNC because you’re actively trying to kill MSNBC hosts with workload?
SEN. WARNER: We put out a thousand pages because we finished this report back in May, and it took the Intelligence Community that long to go through their redactions of what they would allow us to release or not. I would have hoped it would have been out earlier, but it is out, and it is now part of the historical record. It goes along with what we saw about Russian interference with social media, it goes along with what we saw about Russian interference into our election system, and what’s so important is not only what you went through, but the fact that the Intelligence Community ten days ago, said Russia and other nations are back in 2020 trying to do it again.
MADDOW: The Russian ongoing interest in this President – and as the Intelligence Community has publicly said – their interest in making sure that he is re-elected, has become kind of a theme song in terms of us trying to assess the President’s motives for a lot of his harder-to-explain behavior particularly with regard to Russia but also around a lot of foreign policy and intelligence issues over time. I feel like, from the biggest possible picture here, part of what the President has learned, part of what the President’s political supporters have learned, is that no matter what they get called out for when it comes to Russia, and knowingly assisting in Russia’s efforts, and accepting their help, and asking for more of it, and trying to capitalize on it – they never get in trouble for any of it, so I feel like they’re becoming more blatant about the fact that they’re okay with Russia interfering on their behalf.
SEN. WARNER: Well, I do think it is unfortunate, to say the least, that three and a half years later, the United States Congress – the House has passed bills, but the Senate under Mitch McConnell, has not even voted on a single bill that says if Russia chooses, or their agents choose to put up advertisements on Facebook, there ought to be the same disclosure requirements that if they advertised on MSNBC. Or, how about this for a law that shouldn’t be a big stretch – if a foreign government offers you dirt in a presidential campaign, the appropriate response ought to be, tell the FBI, don’t say thank you. We couldn’t even vote on those additional rules. And that I think makes us less secure.
Now, we are safer because election officials of both parties across the country have stepped up. We are safer because, while not perfect, the social media companies are doing better at trying to ferret out some of the most abusive misinformation. We are better because literally hundreds of counterintelligence professionals are doing their job. But the fact that this White House refuses to acknowledge what the Intelligence Community uniformly said ten days ago – that Russia is back, and now China and Iran are also trying to interfere in our democracy – should give us a little bit of pause 77 days before election.
NICOLE WALLACE: Senator, the narrative in this – it’s too bad it’s a thousand pages because there are sections of it that read like a thriller. Can you just take us inside the findings about how Paul Manafort, who – in American presidential campaigns, the campaign Chairman is the most senior person, and to say it’s not normal to run plays for Russia is an understatement. I worked on three, nobody talked to any foreign government. But he’s basically described in the text as an either a witting or unwitting agent of a now-known Russian intelligence official. Explain how that operated and explain – Andrew Weissmann of the Mueller campaign said there were things like that, that maybe were not even known to Mueller. How did you get to that, what did that look like, and how is that something that doesn’t have everyone’s hair on fire?
SEN. WARNER: Well this is three and a half years of work, a very bipartisan group of staff members, and I want to shout out to the former chair, who is Richard Burr, who stayed to this bipartisan agreement to try to get all the facts out, and Marco Rubio is trying to continue in that stead, and we said we were going to let the American public decide how they want to read this. This is, again, volume five. We’ve done other bipartisan reports, on social media, on election security, and the amazing thing is, the individual that Manafort dealt with, has been mentioned in the popular press as potentially being involved in some of the Russian disinformation efforts going on.
So I think this should be about, as Americans who do we want to have decide our elections? It should be Americans. We may disagree with Mr. Trump and his supporters, but it ought to be Americans deciding amongst each other, not outside foreign entities trying to weigh in and tip the scales one way or the other. And I think we still have a responsibility, I’ve got a responsibility to push the Intelligence Community even more to continue to educate the American public – not so much about what happened 2016, but what happened in 2020.
These other nations are still trying to interfere, because in a sense, the soft underbelly of democracy is our systems, and if you can undermine people’s confidence in our system – and unfortunately out of the White House, we’ve seen this President talk about not being willing perhaps to go by the results of the election, or as the earlier story pointed out, an unprecedented assault on the post office. So my hope would be that people of good will of both parties would look at what happened in 2016, look at this bipartisan report, read it, and then make sure in 2020 we don’t have it happen again. I’ll push the Intelligence Community to come clean with all their information. And then Americans ought to make sure we decide this election, not foreign entities.
MADDOW: Senator, one brief last question for you. There’s been public reporting that your committee believes and in fact referred to the Justice Department that a number of people associated with the Trump campaign may have lied to your committee over the course of your investigation. I know that you’re going to be reluctant to talk about criminal referrals, but do you believe there were people who lied to your committee and should they be prosecuted?
SEN. WARNER: Rachel, the Chairman of the committee said ‘you shouldn’t lie to our committee.’ I’m not going to talk about referrals, what happened or not. That’s not appropriate. And again, whatever happened was turned over to the Justice Department.
MADDOW: Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia Senator Mark Warner. Senator Warner, thanks for helping us understand this. After the DNC is over, I think there’s going to be a second round of focus on what you guys have done here. I look forward to talking to you again about it then, sir.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you.